The Urantia Book
The Life and Teachings of Jesus
143. Going Through Samaria
4. The Jews and the Samaritans
143.4.1 For more than six hundred years the Jews of Judea, and later on those of Galilee also, had been at enmity with the Samaritans. This ill feeling between the Jews and the Samaritans came about in this way: About seven hundred years B.C., Sargon, king of Assyria, in subduing a revolt in central Palestine, carried away and into captivity over twenty-five thousand Jews of the northern kingdom of Israel and installed in their place an almost equal number of the descendants of the Cuthites, Sepharvites, and the Hamathites. Later on, Ashurbanipal sent still other colonies to dwell in Samaria.
143.4.2 The religious enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans dated from the return of the former from the Babylonian captivity, when the Samaritans worked to prevent the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Later they offended the Jews by extending friendly assistance to the armies of Alexander. In return for their friendship Alexander gave the Samaritans permission to build a temple on Mount Gerizim, where they worshiped Yahweh and their tribal gods and offered sacrifices much after the order of the temple services at Jerusalem. At least they continued this worship up to the time of the Maccabees, when John Hyrcanus destroyed their temple on Mount Gerizim. The Apostle Philip, in his labors for the Samaritans after the death of Jesus, held many meetings on the site of this old Samaritan temple.
143.4.3 The antagonisms between the Jews and the Samaritans were time-honored and historic; increasingly since the days of Alexander they had had no dealings with each other. The twelve apostles were not averse to preaching in the Greek and other gentile cities of the Decapolis and Syria, but it was a severe test of their loyalty to the Master when he said, “Let us go into Samaria.” But in the year and more they had been with Jesus, they had developed a form of personal loyalty which transcended even their faith in his teachings and their prejudices against the Samaritans.
5. The Woman of Sychar
143.5.1 When the Master and the twelve arrived at Jacob's well, Jesus, being weary from the journey, tarried by the well while Philip took the apostles with him to assist in bringing food and tents from Sychar, for they were disposed to stay in this vicinity for a while. Peter and the Zebedee sons would have remained with Jesus, but he requested that they go with their brethren, saying: “Have no fear for me; these Samaritans will be friendly; only our brethren, the Jews, seek to harm us.” And it was almost six o'clock on this summer's evening when Jesus sat down by the well to await the return of the apostles.
143.5.2 The water of Jacob's well was less mineral than that from the wells of Sychar and was therefore much valued for drinking purposes. Jesus was thirsty, but there was no way of getting water from the well. When, therefore, a woman of Sychar came up with her water pitcher and prepared to draw from the well, Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” This woman of Samaria knew Jesus was a Jew by his appearance and dress, and she surmised that he was a Galilean Jew from his accent. Her name was Nalda and she was a comely creature. She was much surprised to have a Jewish man thus speak to her at the well and ask for water, for it was not deemed proper in those days for a self-respecting man to speak to a woman in public, much less for a Jew to converse with a Samaritan. Therefore Nalda asked Jesus, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink of me, a Samaritan woman?” Jesus answered: “I have indeed asked you for a drink, but if you could only understand, you would ask me for a draught of the living water.” Then said Nalda: “But, Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; whence, then, have you this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well, and who drank thereof himself and his sons and his cattle also?”
143.5.3 Jesus replied: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whosoever drinks of the water of the living spirit shall never thirst. And this living water shall become in him a well of refreshment springing up even to eternal life.” Nalda then said: “Give me this water that I thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw. Besides, anything which a Samaritan woman could receive from such a commendable Jew would be a pleasure.”
143.5.4 Nalda did not know how to take Jesus' willingness to talk with her. She beheld in the Master's face the countenance of an upright and holy man, but she mistook friendliness for commonplace familiarity, and she misinterpreted his figure of speech as a form of making advances to her. And being a woman of lax morals, she was minded openly to become flirtatious, when Jesus, looking straight into her eyes, with a commanding voice said, “Woman, go get your husband and bring him hither.” This command brought Nalda to her senses. She saw that she had misjudged the Master's kindness; she perceived that she had misconstrued his manner of speech. She was frightened; she began to realize that she stood in the presence of an unusual person, and groping about in her mind for a suitable reply, in great confusion, she said, “But, Sir, I cannot call my husband, for I have no husband.” Then said Jesus: “You have spoken the truth, for, while you may have once had a husband, he with whom you are now living is not your husband. Better it would be if you would cease to trifle with my words and seek for the living water which I have this day offered you.”
143.5.5 By this time Nalda was sobered, and her better self was awakened. She was not an immoral woman wholly by choice. She had been ruthlessly and unjustly cast aside by her husband and in dire straits had consented to live with a certain Greek as his wife, but without marriage. Nalda now felt greatly ashamed that she had so unthinkingly spoken to Jesus, and she most penitently addressed the Master, saying: “My Lord, I repent of my manner of speaking to you, for I perceive that you are a holy man or maybe a prophet.” And she was just about to seek direct and personal help from the Master when she did what so many have done before and since - dodged the issue of personal salvation by turning to the discussion of theology and philosophy. She quickly turned the conversation from her own needs to a theological controversy. Pointing over to Mount Gerizim, she continued: “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and yet you would say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship; which, then, is the right place to worship God?”
143.5.6 Jesus perceived the attempt of the woman's soul to avoid direct and searching contact with its Maker, but he also saw that there was present in her soul a desire to know the better way of life. After all, there was in Nalda's heart a true thirst for the living water; therefore he dealt patiently with her, saying: “Woman, let me say to you that the day is soon coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. But now you worship that which you know not, a mixture of the religion of many pagan gods and gentile philosophies. The Jews at least know whom they worship; they have removed all confusion by concentrating their worship upon one God, Yahweh. But you should believe me when I say that the hour will soon come - even now is - when all sincere worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for it is just such worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Your salvation comes not from knowing how others should worship or where but by receiving into your own heart this living water which I am offering you even now.”
143.5.7 But Nalda would make one more effort to avoid the discussion of the embarrassing question of her personal life on earth and the status of her soul before God. Once more she resorted to questions of general religion, saying: “Yes, I know, Sir, that John has preached about the coming of the Converter, he who will be called the Deliverer, and that, when he shall come, he will declare to us all things” - and Jesus, interrupting Nalda, said with startling assurance, “I who speak to you am he.”
143.5.8 This was the first direct, positive, and undisguised pronouncement of his divine nature and sonship which Jesus had made on earth; and it was made to a woman, a Samaritan woman, and a woman of questionable character in the eyes of men up to this moment, but a woman whom the divine eye beheld as having been sinned against more than as sinning of her own desire and as now being a human soul who desired salvation, desired it sincerely and wholeheartedly, and that was enough.
143.5.9 As Nalda was about to voice her real and personal longing for better things and a more noble way of living, just as she was ready to speak the real desire of her heart, the twelve apostles returned from Sychar, and coming upon this scene of Jesus' talking so intimately with this woman - this Samaritan woman, and alone - they were more than astonished. They quickly deposited their supplies and drew aside, no man daring to reprove him, while Jesus said to Nalda: “Woman, go your way; God has forgiven you. Henceforth you will live a new life. You have received the living water, and a new joy will spring up within your soul, and you shall become a daughter of the Most High.” And the woman, perceiving the disapproval of the apostles, left her waterpot and fled to the city.
143.5.10 As she entered the city, she proclaimed to everyone she met: “Go out to Jacob's well and go quickly, for there you will see a man who told me all I ever did. Can this be the Converter?” And ere the sun went down, a great crowd had assembled at Jacob's well to hear Jesus. And the Master talked to them more about the water of life, the gift of the indwelling spirit.
143.5.11 The apostles never ceased to be shocked by Jesus' willingness to talk with women, women of questionable character, even immoral women. It was very difficult for Jesus to teach his apostles that women, even so-called immoral women, have souls which can choose God as their Father, thereby becoming daughters of God and candidates for life everlasting. Even nineteen centuries later many show the same unwillingness to grasp the Master's teachings. Even the Christian religion has been persistently built up around the fact of the death of Christ instead of around the truth of his life. The world should be more concerned with his happy and God-revealing life than with his tragic and sorrowful death.
143.5.12 Nalda told this entire story to the Apostle John the next day, but he never revealed it fully to the other apostles, and Jesus did not speak of it in detail to the twelve.
143.5.13 Nalda told John that Jesus had told her “all I ever did.” John many times wanted to ask Jesus about this visit with Nalda, but he never did. Jesus told her only one thing about herself, but his look into her eyes and the manner of his dealing with her had so brought all of her checkered life in panoramic review before her mind in a moment of time that she associated all of this self-revelation of her past life with the look and the word of the Master. Jesus never told her she had had five husbands. She had lived with four different men since her husband cast her aside, and this, with all her past, came up so vividly in her mind at the moment when she realized Jesus was a man of God that she subsequently repeated to John that Jesus had really told her all about herself.
6. The Samaritan Revival
143.6.1 On the evening that Nalda drew the crowd out from Sychar to see Jesus, the twelve had just returned with food, and they besought Jesus to eat with them instead of talking to the people, for they had been without food all day and were hungry. But Jesus knew that darkness would soon be upon them; so he persisted in his determination to talk to the people before he sent them away. When Andrew sought to persuade him to eat a bite before speaking to the crowd, Jesus said, “I have meat to eat that you do not know about.” When the apostles heard this, they said among themselves: “Has any man brought him aught to eat? Can it be that the woman gave him food as well as drink?” When Jesus heard them talking among themselves, before he spoke to the people, he turned aside and said to the twelve: “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work. You should no longer say it is such and such a time until the harvest. Behold these people coming out from a Samaritan city to hear us; I tell you the fields are already white for the harvest. He who reaps receives wages and gathers this fruit to eternal life; consequently the sowers and the reapers rejoice together. For herein is the saying true: ‘One sows and another reaps.' I am now sending you to reap that whereon you have not labored; others have labored, and you are about to enter into their labor.” This he said in reference to the preaching of John the Baptist.
143.6.2 Jesus and the apostles went into Sychar and preached two days before they established their camp on Mount Gerizim. And many of the dwellers in Sychar believed the gospel and made request for baptism, but the apostles of Jesus did not yet baptize.
143.6.3 The first night of the camp on Mount Gerizim the apostles expected that Jesus would rebuke them for their attitude toward the woman at Jacob's well, but he made no reference to the matter. Instead he gave them that memorable talk on “The realities which are central in the kingdom of God.” In any religion it is very easy to allow values to become disproportionate and to permit facts to occupy the place of truth in one's theology. The fact of the cross became the very center of subsequent Christianity; but it is not the central truth of the religion which may be derived from the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
143.6.4 The theme of Jesus' teaching on Mount Gerizim was: That he wants all men to see God as a Father-friend just as he (Jesus) is a brother-friend. And again and again he impressed upon them that love is the greatest relationship in the world - in the universe - just as truth is the greatest pronouncement of the observation of these divine relationships.
143.6.5 Jesus declared himself so fully to the Samaritans because he could safely do so, and because he knew that he would not again visit the heart of Samaria to preach the gospel of the kingdom.
143.6.6 Jesus and the twelve camped on Mount Gerizim until the end of August. They preached the good news of the kingdom - the fatherhood of God - to the Samaritans in the cities by day and spent the nights at the camp. The work which Jesus and the twelve did in these Samaritan cities yielded many souls for the kingdom and did much to prepare the way for the marvelous work of Philip in these regions after Jesus' death and resurrection, subsequent to the dispersion of the apostles to the ends of the earth by the bitter persecution of believers at Jerusalem.
7. Teachings about Prayer and Worship
143.7.1 At the evening conferences on Mount Gerizim, Jesus taught many great truths, and in particular he laid emphasis on the following:
143.7.2 True religion is the act of an individual soul in its self-conscious relations with the Creator; organized religion is man's attempt to socialize the worship of individual religionists.
143.7.3 Worship - contemplation of the spiritual - must alternate with service, contact with material reality. Work should alternate with play; religion should be balanced by humor. Profound philosophy should be relieved by rhythmic poetry. The strain of living - the time tension of personality - should be relaxed by the restfulness of worship. The feelings of insecurity arising from the fear of personality isolation in the universe should be antidoted by the faith contemplation of the Father and by the attempted realization of the Supreme.
143.7.4 Prayer is designed to make man less thinking but more realizing; it is not designed to increase knowledge but rather to expand insight.
143.7.5 Worship is intended to anticipate the better life ahead and then to reflect these new spiritual significances back onto the life which now is. Prayer is spiritually sustaining, but worship is divinely creative.
143.7.6 Worship is the technique of looking to the One for the inspiration of service to the many. Worship is the yardstick which measures the extent of the soul's detachment from the material universe and its simultaneous and secure attachment to the spiritual realities of all creation.
143.7.7 Prayer is self-reminding - sublime thinking; worship is self-forgetting - superthinking. Worship is effortless attention, true and ideal soul rest, a form of restful spiritual exertion.
143.7.8 Worship is the act of a part identifying itself with the Whole; the finite with the Infinite; the son with the Father; time in the act of striking step with eternity. Worship is the act of the son's personal communion with the divine Father, the assumption of refreshing, creative, fraternal, and romantic attitudes by the human soul-spirit.
143.7.9 Although the apostles grasped only a few of his teachings at the camp, other worlds did, and other generations on earth will.